Elements of StressStress is an unavoidable part of everyday life. A little bit of stress is even good for you. It provides motivation and energy to complete whatever you need to accomplish. When you don't handle stress well, however, it can easily become overwhelming. Whether you are a church leader trying to serve faithfully while avoiding burnout, a spiritual counselor helping people navigate the stresses of their daily lives, or a person of faith attempting to distinguish between normal stress levels and warning signs, learning how to complete a stress cycle is beneficial. Even if you are under a lot of stress, there are ways to process it thoroughly so that it doesn't have a detrimental effect on your overall well-being.

Physical Outlets

In "Burnout," Drs. Emily and Amelia Nagoski dissect what happens to the human body when stress builds up without release. They also list several ways to complete the cycle so that stress doesn't overwhelm you, and most of them are pretty simple practices. Not only is exercise great for your physical health, it can also be healing for your mind and spirit. Physical activity is one of the top methods you can use for stress release, and it doesn't have to entail an hour-long workout at the gym every time. There are several quick things you can do to complete a stress cycle:

  • Dance
  • Jumping jacks
  • Brisk walk or jog
  • Stair climbing

If exercise is not an option at the time you need release, it may also help to take a few deep breaths. If you know you are going to have a particularly stressful day ahead, set alarms on your phone to remind you to take a short break, and spend a minute at your desk just focusing on your breathing. You may be surprised how much this calms you and clears your head.

Emotional Outlets

If you have ever been around babies for any length of time, you know that they tend to cry often and for many reasons. Crying is one of the most basic forms of stress release, and many adults would benefit from unlearning their aversion to it. It can be quite cathartic after a troubling day to wash away your burdens with the help of tears.

Many people keep stress bottled up because they don't feel comfortable expressing their emotions, particularly while at work. Crying may be great for releasing stress, but if you are in the middle of a budget meeting or your volunteer shift, the awkwardness that follows may end up causing you more stress that you have to deal with later. The good news is that laughter can be just as effective, and it's much more socially acceptable. Make lunch plans with someone who always seems to make you smile. Watch a short online video of animals doing funny things. Even if you just force yourself to laugh, you may find that it feels so good that, before long, you are laughing for real.

Creative Outlets

Human beings are more than their to-do lists. Having others depend on you for counsel, support or service may help you feel like you are making a difference, but your worth is not tied up in what you can do for others. You also deserve time to express yourself, and embracing your creative side on a regular basis helps remind you of that.

It is likely that you already have a creative outlet that you enjoy, such as singing, painting or building things. You can also explore a new hobby. What have you always wanted to try? There are probably classes or people willing to teach you closer than you think.

No matter how you choose to complete the stress cycle, it's important to do so. Thoroughly processing stress is not only good for you but also helps you maintain the vigor with which you serve your church and community.

Category: Health and Wellness

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